About Us

Our Mission: Providing Ongoing Education and Prevention

Kids on the Block’s mission is to provide ongoing education and prevention through puppetry for children and the community at large. The core message in each program is to teach children acceptance of differences in themselves and in others.

The troupe uses life size puppets and performs 15 topics in the style of Bunraku puppetry. The puppeteers travel the state performing in schools, boys and girls clubs, and other community centers.  In 2023, 41,552 children in 37 Kentucky counties viewed 347 programs. We received 32 Child Abuse Disclosures. The puppets bring children to a teachable moment by reflecting their hopes, fears, likes, and dislikes.

Other initiatives include owning and operating The Higgins Center for Nonprofits, free kids runs, and a youth board for elementary aged children.

Our History

Kids on the Block History

In 1977, special education teacher Barbara Aiello had a student, Anthony, with cerebral palsy who used a wheelchair. Anthony was bright, and Barbara felt that he was ready to be mainstreamed into a “regular” classroom. A few days later, Anthony told her he didn’t want to go back to that classroom because children ignored him, made fun of him and didn’t want to play with him.

While Anthony was academically prepared, teachers or children in the “regular” classroom weren’t prepared for Anthony. So, Barbara made a puppet with Anthony’s likeness, including his red hair and constructed a wheelchair out of garden hose and bicycle tires. Using the puppet, Barbara explained to his class why he looked different, talked differently and used a wheelchair. Kids on the Block was born the moment children began to raise their hands to ask the puppet character questions. When a hand was raised, a barrier came down. 

From there, Anthony’s puppet grew to a family of puppet characters and programs designed to help children understand and cope with sensitive issues.

Coming to Kentucky

Kentucky Kids on the Block was founded in 1985 by Jamie Gaddie Higgins and Alice Kummer. Jamie took her daughter, Heather, to a Spina Bifida Association Christmas party. Nashville Kids on the Block performed their “Accepting Differences” program. Heather, who has spina bifida, reacted in such a positive way, her mother reached out to her friend, Alice, about starting their own puppet troupe in Bowling Green.

The puppetry used by Kentucky Kids on the Block is based on a Japanese style of puppetry called Bunraku. Bunraku puppetry, using life sized puppets, is used to bring children to the teachable moment. Each year, Kentucky Kids on the Block presents 300 programs to approximately 30,000 children in 20 Kentucky counties. The programs blend humor with sensitivity to help children develop an attitude of understanding and acceptance toward others that will serve them the rest of their lives. Kids on the Block is housed in the Higgins Center for Nonprofits.

Our Team

Kids on the Block Staff

Ashley Reynolds

Executive
Director

Amanda Guerra

Director of Programs / Lead Puppeteer

Regina Pedigo

Puppeteer /
Special Projects

Taryn Deckard

Programming and
Fundraising Intern

Reg Roman

Puppeteer / Marketing Coordinator

Megan Aldridge


Puppeteer

Ashley Reynolds

Executive
Director

Amanda Guerra

Director of Programs / Lead Puppeteer

Regina Pedigo

Puppeteer /
Special Projects

Taryn Deckard

Programming and
Fundraising Intern

Reg Roman

Puppeteer / Marketing Coordinator

Board of Directors

  • Carla Brown
    Executive Director
    Community Action of Southern Kentucky
  • Alan Cooper
    General Manager at WDNS/WLCT Radio
    Kentucky Kids on the Block Position: Treasurer
  • Bonita Dearbone
  • Sherri Emberton
    Accounting Controller
    Scotty’s Contracting and Stone
  • Kayla Fugate
    Staff Attorney at Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy
    Kentucky Kids on the Block Position: Past Chair
  • Lauren Kummer
    High School Assistance Counselor
    Warren County Public Schools
  • Dotti Beth Lawrence
    Retired
    Realtor
  • Susan Lewis
    Realtor
    RE/MAX Real Estate Executives
  • Ashley Lillard
    Health Education Coordinator at Barren River District Health Department
    Kentucky Kids on the Block Position: Secretary
  • Max Marley
    Owner
    Success Principles
  • Tracey Pharris
    Vice President/Business Banking Relationship Manager at US Bank
    Current Kentucky Kids on the Block Position: Chair
  • Ashley Reynolds
    Executive Director
    Kentucky Kids on the Block
  • Claudia Sweeney
    Director of Sales
    Three Springs Hospitality, LLC
  • Mary Vitale
    Owner
    New Millennium Real Estate, LLC
  • Mckinze Willard
    Consultant
    WellSky
  • Barry Williams
    Owner
    Communication Systems
  • David Witty
    Realtor
    Coldwell Banker Legacy Real Estate Group

Advisors

Shelly Compton
Partner at Carr, Riggs, and Ingram, CPAs

Johna Rodgers
Johna Rodgers Consulting, LLC

Heather Higgins-Jeffrey

Steve Sutton
President of Chase Bank

John Kelly
Kelly Family Foundation

Mary Vitale
Owner of New Millennium Real Estate, LLC

Alice Kummer
Kentucky Kids on the Block Co-founder

Julie Wedge
Wedge Family Foundation

Sandy Riley
Owner of Riley’s Bakery

Barry Williams
Owner of Communication Systems

County Representatives

Barren County:

Erin Hiles
Barren Inc

Jefferson County:

Julie Ann Rosing
Law Clerk at US District Court for Western District of Kentucky

Ashley Reynolds

Executive Director

“If I have managed to brighten up even one gloomy childhood – then I am satisfied.” – Astrid Lindgren

That quote drives me everyday. I began my journey as the grant writer at Kids on the Block in 2013 and I knew I had found both my calling and career. After being appointed Executive Director in 2014, my focus became child abuse prevention because I strongly believe the most immediate need facing our world is protecting children.

I love being involved in the community. I attend Christ Episcopal Church, teach adult and kids yoga classes at the Warren County Public Library, and serve as a Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Ambassador. I also love growing as a fundraiser by being a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). Serving on the AFP Nashville Board of Directors allows me to be around like-minded professionals in my field.

Outside of work I enjoy yoga, skiing with my husband, going to concerts with my mom, collecting antiques with my dad, and planning our next trip to the beach with our two wild dogs (humane society rescues).

Amanda Guerra

Director of Programs/Lead Puppeteer

I am a WKU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Studies. So I thought Kids on the Block would be a good fit for me. I started working at Kids on the Block as a puppeteer in June 2011. In 2014 I became the Director of Programs and Lead Puppeteer.

I enjoy presenting programs at schools because through puppetry I am able to bring children to a teachable moment that they don’t forget. The programs that I feel most passionate about teaching is the Child Abuse Prevention programs. These programs not only teach children about child abuse but also teach children how to get out of abusive situations.

The programs that I have the most fun presenting are the Accepting Differences (Campers program), and Problem Solving. (Who am I kidding, they are all fun!) When I am not working I enjoy outdoors activities such as gardening, hiking and kayaking with my husband, daughter and our dog.

Regina Pedigo

Puppeteer/Special Projects

I have lived in Bowling Green most of my life. I married my husband in 1996 and we had our daughter in 2000. I had always worked with kids and would play with puppets and change my voice for the different characters in the books I would read to them. Little did I know God was preparing me for something greater. I started working with Kids on the Block on March 1, 2007. My favorite KOB program is Child Abuse Prevention. The pain of being abused follows a child the rest of their life and if just one child learns they can say no or learns that it’s ok to tell, then it is worth all the time we put into it. When I’m not at work I am very involved with my church where I currently lead the music and choir. I love to hike, camp, cook and sing. I have 3 dogs, 1 cat and a ball python.

Taryn Deckard

Programming and Fundraising Intern

Hello! My name is Taryn. I grew up in Metcalfe County, Kentucky but I have been a Bowling Green resident since August 2021 as a WKU student! 
 
I had originally planned to become an English educator, but I am now majoring in Creative Writing with a minor in Non Profit. Thanks to some guidance from my professor, I made contact with Kids on the Block and knew I wanted to be a part of their family and the world of non-profit.
 
I love folk music, tennis, poetry, and  any comedy sketch show I can find! 

Reg Roman

Puppeteer / Marketing Coordinator

Hey there! My name is Reg and I’m a Puppeteer and Social Media specialist here at Kentucky Kids on the Block. Before I came to Kids on the Block I was a cosmetologist and makeup artist for 6 years. But I decided to take a break from that career path to be more involved in my community and be creative in different ways. 

I’m originally from Northern California but moved to Bowling Green with my partner of 4 years to be closer to friends, and have been loving every second of it! I love how connected Bowling Green’s community is and how genuinely authentic everyone I have met is. 

When I’m not working I still like to play around with makeup and hair on myself and my family. I also am passionate about DIY music and art scenes, human rights activism, and anything campy or kitschy!

Megan Aldridge

Puppeteer

Hello, my name is Megan! I grew up in Franklin County, Kentucky and I am currently a Master’s student at WKU. Previously, I attended WKU for undergrad from 2018-2022 where I recieved 2 degrees in History and Theatre.

I took a year off from school to work and now I am back!

When I am not working I like to relax at my apartment with my cat, Honey. I am passionate about my research and learning new things.